When no one is watching.

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When no one is watching, I do some humiliating things. Like, well, I sometimes stand in front of the full length mirror and shake my booty. Do you remember Cameron Diaz in Charlies Angels? Yeah, kind of like that. Well...exactly like that, if we're being honest, which WE ARE. (Sorry about the visual. Or, YOU'RE WELCOME.)

And sometimes, when no one is watching, I stuff my face. That's my go-to thing to do. I mean, if you stuck a video camera in front of me and watched me inhale food when I'm all alone, I would probably die of embarrassment. I eat by the fistful you guys. When no one is watching I can't be bothered with petty things like manners and calories and chewing slowly and small portion sizes.

Which reminds me. Just to get my point across, I'm going to share something really humiliating with you. But you have to promise not to judge, okay? Promise? Okay.

The other day I was all alone, so I went for my go-to of stuffing my face, like I previously mentioned. In my fridge happened to sit half of a beautiful banana cream pie. And since obviously calories don't count when no one is watching, I decided to eat the whole half of the pie myself, right out of the dish. Obviously. So I sat down, fork in hand, and started stuffing my face. It was heaven in a box, all of the banana slices and vanilla bavarian and whipped cream and gimmee, gimmee, more, more! So I ate without an ounce of regret, until...I spotted a lone hair, one that was obviously not mine. In my head I knew the right thing to do was to scrunch my face in disgust and throw out the rest of the pie, because ewwww, right?

Well this is where it gets gross.

I cut the pie crust around the hair, pushed it to the side, and finished the rest of the pie. I didn't even gag. And it tasted delicious.

Do you hate me as much as I hate myself right now??

So we all do some crazy things when no one is watching, no big deal right? (Plleeassseee don't tell me I'm the only one! I mean seriously, if I'm the only one, don't tell me.)

But then there are more than just the silly things I do when nobody is watching. Then there is the person I am when nobody is watching.

I'm going to get real for a second, the kind of real where I compliment myself a little. And I think after that banana cream pie story, I deserve it. See, here is the thing. Since my little guy was born just over two years ago, he has brought out the best in me. He is a lot of work, a lot of work, but I'll be darned if he hasn't made me realize who I really am inside. (Which, I have a feeling that will be a continual process for the next 18 to 30 years.)

The days and nights I spend with Jace alone, while no one is around to watch or keep us company, those are the times that I am the most proud of myself. Because at the end of the day, while no one was watching, who I was and how I handled the tough situations made me a better person.

Jace brings out the patience and maternal loving instincts inside of me that I didn't even know existed. Because the truth is, I'm not this perfectly patient and loving person, not always. I lose my temper and I get frustrated and annoyed. And if you left me with someone else's two year old for an entire day, well I'll probably go ahead and bet that I wouldn't be nearly as patient and loving.

So it's not that.

But it's him. It's my son. With him, I am filled with this long suffering endurance that I didn't know existed inside of me, and it's run by this true love that I also didn't know existed. I become someone who I am so proud of. Someone who, if I could stand on the side lines and watch her interacting with her toddler, I would say: wow, she is one good mama. And that doesn't go with everything when it comes to being a mama. I mean, I am terrible at making sure he eats healthy. And I'm no good at trimming his bangs so that they don't fall in his eyes. He wears the same pair of jeans three times or more before I wash them, and I can't tell you how many times I forgot to pack some important necessity in the diaper bag, like his favorite car or his juice cup or the diapers.

But when he is unruly, I am somehow able to talk softly and to breathe slowly. When I am exhausted, I am able to put myself in his shoes and think about how he must be feeling, why he might be acting this way. I have this youth-like endurance to run around with him longer, to take him to the places he loves most, to keep him entertained when he wants me by his side.

That's a lot to take in, I know, me patting myself on the back and sounding all high and mighty, and please understand I don't mean it that way. I have so many faults that it's kind of ridiculous and I'd be way too embarrassed to share even half of those faults with you. I don't think I'm any better than the next person by any means. Ever. And I know someone out there is rolling her eyes and saying, ohh honey, try having four kids under the age of 6 and see how you feel then. And to you, I say this: I don't ever plan on having four kids, let alone four kids under the age of six. So don't worry about it.

I'm not talking about how I might be if I added more kids to the mix or if I didn't have a part-time job (which, let's be honest, that only makes it harder) or if I were a single mother taking this on alone. I'm simply talking about Jace, the boy I have spent the last two years raising, and nine months before that growing and nourishing and preparing. I am referring to him, and him alone. Who I am, as his mother, even when no one is watching, well that is my strong suit.

One strong suit in three thousand weak ones, and I'll take it.

And mind you, sometimes my patience is stretched too thin and that's when my best friend comes in. See, I'm fortunate enough to live with my best friend and call him my husband, and the guy just comes in handy some-A LOT OF-times. So sometimes when I feel my natural motherly talents running low, he swoops in and saves the day. And in that regards, I can't take all of the credit.

But there are days when Jace pulls the greenery off of my fancy topairy, when he throws his lunch plate on the ground, when he wants to be pushed around on his scooter for hours, when he takes 45 minutes squirming in my arms before he'll fall asleep...all of these times, the qualities that come out inside of me are the good ones. No, the great ones. Some days I just know I was made to do this, to be his mother. I was made for him.

And even though no one is watching, I know somewhere out there the big guy himself is probably watching me. And I like to imagine he is smiling while he looks down, and he is so gosh darn proud. I like to imagine he is thinking, You see? This is how I made you. I made you to be his mother, and you are doing a great job child. Keep up the good work. And then he reminds me that he'll be around if I ever falter, and I think he means WHEN you falter, because he knows I will sometimes. But I nod and think back, thank you God. Thank you for giving me this opportunity, and for giving me this love, and for having the same patience with me that I'm practicing with my son.

So sometimes, when no one is watching, I eat pies with hair in them and I daydream out loud and I dance by myself in front of my mirror. All of which I'm not particularly proud of.

But when no one is watching, sometimes I prove to myself that deep down, with nothing to prove to anyone else, I really am a good person. I really have good character. I really am a good mother. I really am something to be proud of.

*pats myself on the back and heads off to the kitchen to eat the whole batch of cookie dough*

{PS} An update since my last post: my brother is home from the hospital now and doing well. In his words, he looks worse than he feels. (he does look pretty bad...) To everyone who sent me texts or called me with your love and concern, THANK YOU for your kindness! I love you all!

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